Angry lymph nodes

Back to the beginning – ‘The first symptoms’                             Up to – ‘The Ostrich’
Back to previous post – ‘Feeling bloated anyone?’

Fast forward two weeks later and things start taking a more definite shape. There’s bad news and there’s good news.

The good news is that the urgency to go to the toilet is gone. Poof! Just like that, gone!

I’m elated.
‘Hurray! I won’t need to wear Pampers after all!’

Unfortunately not the same can be said about the bloated abdomen.  Stubborn, my firm belly is not going anywhere. In fact, it does quite the opposite. With each passing day it gets a tiny bit worse.
And worse.
Until one day, I’m sitting at the computer, working my usual ungodly shift of 14 hours in a row. I’m getting thirsty and I need a cup of tea.

And speaking of tea!
I haven’t told you this yet, but when it comes to tea, I’m trying to be healthy.
It’s ridiculous, ’cause I’m leading nothing of a healthy life; what with my smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, the sitting at the computer desk for hours on end, and the tiny bits of food that I barely remember to eat at all.
There is absolutely nothing healthy in my way of life, but when it comes to drinking tea, hey-ho, I go by the books.
All I drink is green tea, and I’m such a good girl that I even buy organic when I can afford it. 

A note to yourselves ladies,

Green Tea is indeed packed full with antioxidant flavonoids and it’s also a refreshing drink. It neutralizes harmful free radicals, slows down aging, (wrinkles, be gone!), and it is thought to  prevent the development of certain cancers, and even, sometimes fight it back.
One thing for sure – cancer cells don’t like green tea.
But you should!
To take full advantage of the benefits of green tea, 5 or 6 cups a day are recommended.
It sounds like a whole lot of green stuff to be drunk all of a sudden, but give yourself some time to get used with it. Start small and build from there. In a few days you’ll be flying through the cups, enjoying the pure, crystal taste and the healthy benefits.
In fact, green tea is so good, that there’s no point in delaying.
Go on!
Make yourself a fresh cup right now, have a biscuit, cuddle the sofa and let us go back to our story).  

I’m looking for the same thing. 
I’m sitting in front of my computer, working away. I’m getting thirsty and I need a cup of tea.
There’s nobody here to offer me one, so I have to get up and make it myself. That means I have to leave the computer for 5 minutes!
That’s an eternity and I’m annoyed.
Wishing for an Aladdin lamp to rub away and miraculously materialize a bunch of handsome servants to grand all my desires, I lift myself up from the chair. 
And I stop in midair. 
I’m in pain. 
It hurts.
At the same time I realize that this is not something completely new. Looking back over the past few days I remember the same kind of pain, nagging at me, a little bit here, a little bit there, going away and coming back, on and off. But since it had always been so elusive, only a fleeting moment in time, I never paid it much attention.
Until now. 
No doubt about it, it’s back and it definitely hurts me.
I’m descending deeper and deeper into the web of cancer, getting more and more suffocated with each turn. Not only do I have to carry a puffy ball glued to my abdomen at all times, but I am now also in distress.

Like everything cancer, this pain is insidious and sneaky. It slowly, carefully, crawls into existence, creeping its way around your body, hiding and nurturing itself and growing stronger with each day.
Initially it is very easy to ignore and brush aside.
But no matter how hard you swing your brush trying to sweep it under the carpet, the pain never really goes away.
It stays with you.   
In the next couple of weeks I get to know it a lot better.

My pain originates around the groin area.
The groin area is located right at the junction between the abdomen and the upper thighs. This is the place where important lymph nodes, called ‘inguinal lymph nodes’ are positioned. Under attack these nodes can become enlarged and tender. In the vast majority of cases, swollen inguinal lymph nodes indicate nothing much but the presence of an infection. This type of infections are quite common and not life-threatening. However, if the swelling of the nodes is persistant, then cancer, the spread of malignant cancer, can also be a reason and should always be investigated.   
My pain radiates from the groins, but the idea of lymph nodes under malignant attack never crosses my mind. 
Instead, I immediately think of hernia.
‘Hmm… this might be a hernia,’ – I tell to myself.
Inguinal hernias are also very common, they present themselves as bulges in the groins and are more prominent when coughing, straining or standing up. They can be easily removed with a quick, 20 minutes surgery. 
A hernia is not much of a problem and certainly nothing like cancer.

My pain is positional.
Which means that it only hurts in certain positions.
It hurts when I try to stand up.
So much so, that I’m becoming an expert. Before lifting myself up from the chair or the bed, I always take a moment to breathe deeply and get ready  for the incoming pain.
It also hurts when I walk.
Every step I take is becoming more and more painful.
Unlike the urgency to go to the toilet, (already gone by now), and the apparently harmless and painless bit of a bloated belly, this here is a real, tangible problem.
Walking is so difficult now that it takes me half an hour just to go around the corner to the local shops. 
It hurts, it hurts with every step.

And it doesn’t stop here. A few days later, something else happens.

It’s early in the morning, I’m in the shower washing myself, not thinking much of anything and just going through the normal routine. I soap away quickly, up and down, and completely incidentally I take a glance at my abdomen.
And there it is.
It’s staring right back at me.
On the left side, my groin area looks different. It is larger, swollen.

I have now reached a point of no return.
I cannot hide and cannot deny this anymore.
It is obviously there, visible, and palpable.
The problem.

Water from the shower flows down on me and I rest against the wall. On my cheeks the first teardrop starts rolling down. Drip and roll, dissolving itself into the water, down it goes, my warm sorrow.
But this is not just a teardrop, like thousands others before it, this is a special, unique event.
In an enormously long string, this is the beginning. 
The first time cancer rips something away and apart from me, a drop of salty tear to plunge me head-on into the sadness and the fear. 
I’m dazed and my mind is racing. I’m trying to make sense of all of this.
‘What is happening to me?’
My belly is firm and bloated, walking and moving is painful and on the left side, my groin area is undeniably distorted. Swollen. 

Letter by letter and syllabus by syllabus, the question starts taking shape in my mind.
Quickly, I cover my eyes. I don’t want to see it.
But it encircles me and I have nowhere to hide.
‘Can this be cancer?’ it asks.
(The writing is on all the walls, cornering me from everywhere. 
Yes! – it tells me. This is cancer!
But what kind of cancer?
(Your mother, Andrea. Your beautiful mother … )
I push the thought away and cling to hope.
‘Why can this not be the much more common hernia?’ – I tell myself. ‘After all, I already had a hernia when I was 8, why not now?’ 

Laying down on the shower floor, water flows over me.
Frightened, I turn to God. 
– ‘Oh God, please no!’ – I pray. ‘This is such a bad time for me to be sick. I don’t have the money to deal with all this and I don’t have the time! I’m working so hard to build a life for myself, and look, I’m almost there! Please keep me safe for a few more months, a year, that’s all I need! Not now, God, not now!’ – I pray and I beg.

Tears and prayers, it’s all the same. They all get washed away down the drain of the shower.
There’s nobody here.
I’m alone.
It’s only me, and the cancer.
And with each and every passing moment, I am getting weaker, and It is getting stronger.

My time is up).

Back to the beginning – ‘The first symptoms’                             Up to – ‘The Ostrich’
Back to previous post – ‘Feeling Bloated Anyone?’

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